Parry Glasspool as Lewis
Photo credit: http://www.facebook.com/pages/LOST-Theatre/153802401334509?sk=photos_stream
Lewis is coming out fighting
An Olympic story for an Olympic city
I saw Proud at the Lost Theatre on Sunday 5 August and I have been meaning to write about it ever since (the production has now closed). It was a fringe theatre production, and by no means perfect, but I thought it had a lot going for it, and I definitely was inspired enough to want to write about it.
Proud centred on Lewis, a young man, a boxer, who was gay, and the process of coming out, not just to friends and family (where he had been out for some time) but to the boxing community, specifically his macho homophobic trainer, Mac. It was playing at the same time as the London 2012 Olympics were on in London.
One of the lines in the play is "Gay men don't box". That line is founded on false stereotypes about gay men and what this play clearly showed is that "Gay men DO box!"
Parry Glasspool, playing Lewis, the young male lead around whom the play revolves, was excellent and had real potential. I would definitely like to see more of him in the future and I will be following him from now on.
I loved the character of, and the dialogue for, Rachel, Lewis's mum, played by Virginia Byron. I would love to have her as my Mum! She had real spunk, fire and spirit, and she was so supportive of, and fiercely loyal to, her son. I really believed in her as a parent who believed in, and backed, her son 100%.
The play was written by John Stanley and I thought that the writing, on the whole, was very good, sharp and witty.
What I loved about the play was that it explored the process of coming out. Lewis has come out to his friends and family, and had no issue with that at all, but was not out within the boxing community, including his trainer. The play explored how difficult it is to be out and proud in a male-dominated homophobic and hostile environment, and the consequences of being out in such an environment. It also contrasted the difference between Lewis's older boyfriend, Tom, for whom being "Out and Proud" was really important as a political statement/civil rights/human rights issue, and Lewis, for whom being gay was just one aspect of his persona, and not one that he wanted to dominate his life or to define him as a person.
I loved Rachel's line where she says that Lewis should stand up for who he is and what he is, and be Proud of that, because that is what she brought him up to do. I found that statement really positive, empowering, and life-affirming.
The overall theme/message of the play was the importance of being "Out and Proud" and that is a statement I fully support and endorse.
An excellent production from a fringe company, one I would be more than happy to recommend. A great play to take young people along to as a means of starting a discussion on what it means to be gay, the process of coming out, how to be "out and proud", the importance of personal integrity and being true to yourself, being happy re who and what you are, and the fact that being gay is not something to hide or to be ashamed of, gay is good.
Finally, the play heavily referenced the Admiral Duncan pub bombing, which I think is a really important event, so I have provided some contextual information on it below.
Cut and pasted from Wikipedia:
The Admiral Duncan is a pub in Old Compton Street, Soho in the heart of London's gay district. It is known for being the scene of a bomb attack, carried out by Neo-Nazi David Copeland on 30 April 1999.
On 30 April 1999, the Admiral Duncan was the scene of a bomb blast when the Neo-Nazi David Copeland, who was attempting to stir up ethnic and homophobic tensions by carrying out a series of bombings, detonated a nail bomb which killed three people and wounded around 70. Copeland was arrested by the police on the same evening as the bombing. He was subsequently convicted of three murders and three offences of planting bombs; he was sentenced to six life sentences on 30 June 2000.
Feature article in Pink News from 2009, marking the 10th anniversary of the Admiral Duncan pub bombing: